View Full Version : Weekly Poll: How does volunteering fit into your homeschooling?

05-20-2010, 11:30 AM
Summers are a big time of volunteerism for our family. We are far less focused on any kind of formal learning, and that opens some time for us to give back to our community. Our youngest son's big focus is always on animals, so he often volunteers at one of the local nature centers. Our oldest son has done lots of different types of volunteering, but right now he is busy creating websites and doing data entry for non-profits. I'm passionate about supporting local farmers, so I volunteer time each summer helping with farm tours and tailgate markets.

Sometimes it can be challenging to find organizations that will let younger children or whole families volunteer together. What are your experiences? Vote in the poll and then share a little more in the thread!

05-20-2010, 12:29 PM
We are a volunteering family and we don't plan to change that once we are homeschooling. Right now we manage to fit it in after school and on weekends, so I expect we'll be able to devote a little more time to it during the week when he's out of school. We volunteer once a week at the public library (shelving - great for organizational skills!) and we're all on the committee for their annual book sale. Zack received an award as the youngest library volunteer this year. We also stay involved with the local food pantry, Zack likes to hang out at the Senior Center when they're having their weekly computer classes, we walk dogs at the Humane Society and we're participating in a community garden this summer. Giving back to our community is one of the most important lessons I hope to pass along to Zack.

05-20-2010, 05:05 PM
I went with other. There aren't a lot of options here for families or small kids. We do what we can, though. We donate regularly & the kids get to help determine who gets our donation. We donate to the local food pantry, and the kids pick the food we donate. I take them to the store, tell them their budget, and they shop. Then, they go with to drop off our donation. I've tried getting our local homeschooling community involved in things - food drives, collections for the homeless shelter, park clean-up days, etc. However, many say they'll participate then email on the day it's scheduled for, saying they can't make it. My mom has taken my daughter to the soup kitchen to work (my mom's church volunteers there a few times a year).
It's not as much as I'd like, but with one car & limited opportunities, it's the best we can do right now.

05-20-2010, 05:14 PM
We don't get to do much since the kids are so young but we donate canned goods, visit nursing homes and do various other fund raisers through Mom's Club.

When my oldest was young (from before she was born until she was about 8) I was a docent at a local zoo. I taught classes, ran tours, etc. I really miss it but I couldn't imagine doing it with my two younger kids along - they are no where near as calm as my oldest was (plus her dad was also a volunteer and, at least in theory, helped out with her).

05-20-2010, 09:14 PM
I am so far the lone responder in the "Our family isn't into volunteering". I spend lots of my time online here and on my own group helping out people so I guess that might count as volunteering? My daughter's elementary school requires us to volunteer 10 hours per year but they won't let me chaperon anything since I have Noah with me. I have asked all her teachers to send me work to do at home (administrative stuff) and they also say they will but they don't. So I send in the Boxtops for Education, Campbell Labels, soda can tops, etc. I donate my Coke Rewards points to her school, got the Subway gift card and one of my credit cards coded to her school, etc, etc. I send in supplies for PTO events since I'm a member of the PTO but I don't go to the meetings. We donate lots of stuff including all of our homeschool stuff that we don't or no longer use, clothes, etc. We donated toiletries to the troops and also made Xmas cards for the troops. I will volunteer if I can do stuff from home but I'm not into doing stuff with people IRL.

05-20-2010, 09:22 PM
When I was a teenager, I used to volunteer 40-50 hours a week, on top of school and a part time job. When I entered college, that dropped somewhat, but I continued to volunteer probably about 20-30 hours a week. When I finished and got into the working world, I initially spent ~15-20 hours a week volunteering in a soup kitchen with my soon to be wife. As time progressed and family responsibilities have increased, my volunteer time has decreased to nothing for the last 8 years or so.

That said, I'd like to see my kids do some volunteer work, or better yet, all of us do some volunteer work together. But, finding time to do that, when I'm educating in the day and working full time in the evening, is very difficult. Hopefully some time soon, I'll be able to find something that we all can do together that is meaningful and works with our schedule....

05-21-2010, 12:03 AM
Like Snoopy we're not much into volunteering. We donate to charities in various ways all year long so I don't feel too guilty about it. Sometimes there are volunteering projects via Girl Scouts but that is about it for us. If I ever get to a point in my life where I'm not already wiped out with just homeschooling, keeping a household together, making time for husband and friends and myself, and feel that I have extra energy to spare elsewhere than maybe I'd be more into the idea but honestly I am not keen on group type volunteering and things like that so not sure what else there is where a person can just work on their own.

05-21-2010, 02:28 AM
Prior to moving to Ohio a bit over two years ago, I volunteered with the volunteer rescue squad, which ate up time like nobody's business (just ask my wife how much she enjoyed my having to run a call during someone's birthday party.) On the other hand, having been out of the working world for a fair while, it was also enjoyable - comraderie, interesting work, occasional moments of excitement. Since we moved, though, I sloughed off those sorts of responsibilities, moving to the other end of the scale. Now, I'm pretty limited...I volunteer at the nearby city park picking up litter, donate clothes and toys, and that sort of thing.

I'm about ready to change that, though, and have been thinking about ways to incorporate the kids into volunteering this summer...eldest through something of his choice, and the younger two in something age-appropriate. So, to quote the poll, we're looking for the right opportunity.

05-21-2010, 03:55 AM
Nathalie, I would definitely consider what you do a form of volunteering. There are lots of different ways to get involved, including the solitary, behind the scenes support; every play needs stagehands, you know?

We have the same problem that a lot of others have: our kids are too young for most volunteer opportunities. We donate a lot of toys, clothes, and food and the kids are always involved in picking out what goes and helping to take it to where ever we're donating to. We pick up litter in our neighborhood, and every year we participate in the service project that the MOMS Club group we belong to does to benefit children in our community. And we spend a lot of time learning about the things that Nikko is interested in but is too young to participate in (like volunteering at an animal shelter). I made the mistake the other day of going into the spay/neuter part of being a responsible pet owner. It was going fine until Nikko asked, "How do they make it so the animals can't have more babies?" I was sweating bullets thinking I'd just opened the door to the sex talk, but thankfully he was satisfied with a pretty simple explanation!

05-21-2010, 09:41 AM
Before we moved to Florida I was very active volunteering with a local hospice and was on the board of a community arts center. As a family, we would pick up trash in the neighborhood, donate clothes, food, etc., but my son has never done any extended volunteer work. Now that we will have time that is not dedicated to brick and mortar school I want him to have the opportunity to choose something that would be meaningful to him. He really wants to get a cat, but we can't have one in our current living situation so I suggested that he volunteer at the local Humane Society to help take care of the cats there and he really lit up so we are going to check into that soon.

05-21-2010, 10:40 AM
We have found 4-H clubs a good outlet for younger children to find volunteering opportunities. My kids have been doing various things (food drive sorting, cemetary clean-up...raking, etc, nursing home visits) since they were 8. Also when they were very small (toddlers), we did Meals on Wheels once a week. The senior citizens absolutely LOVED having two little urchins bring them their lunch, stop and tell them about their day, etc.

We've always told the kids that even if you can't donate $$, you can always give a bit of time to causes that you believe in. This really hit home last year when my husband was jobless for a time and our only income was my tutoring money.


05-21-2010, 12:21 PM
We donate all our old usable items to VOA. I do some volunteering with my photography, DS does quite a bit with cub scouts, but as a family, we don't really do anything. Something to think about though...

05-21-2010, 02:52 PM
We do volunteer at the local SPCA almost every week, its great once you get thru the training classes (parent only about 6 hours worth) but with one under 13 we are limited to puppy matchmakers or kitty matchmakers(it works out great the boys play and I do all the cleaning up, wait it works great for the boys!) We also have a local elderly community that our homeschool group goes to at least once a month to do activities with the residents.I checked into doing meals on wheels (but my bug isn't big enough) and a soup kitchen BUT right now our local SK doesn't need anymore help from people with kiddos under 14. I also have the boys help our neighbors take their trash out and mow their lawns when they need us too. Its not really volunteering but good citizenship;)

05-21-2010, 07:49 PM
so I suggested that he volunteer at the local Humane Society to help take care of the cats there and he really lit up so we are going to check into that soon. Noah would TOTALLY love this! We have 2 cats and his latest ambition in life (beyond living in a cardboard box!) is to become a "cat nanny". I fear that if I got him to volunteer doing this, he would convince me into getting more cats and trust me, 2 for me is PLENTY!

It was going fine until Nikko asked, "How do they make it so the animals can't have more babies?" I was sweating bullets thinking I'd just opened the door to the sex talk, but thankfully he was satisfied with a pretty simple explanation! LOL! I would have been sweating too! We had both our cats fixed but Noah never asked any questions about it.

Angela Smither
06-14-2010, 05:00 PM
We have a rule that once they turn 13 they have to volunteer once a week in an organization. This is great especially with teenagers, because it gives them self esteem through helping others. I find that it makes them less selfish people.

06-14-2010, 05:56 PM
We have a rule that once they turn 13 they have to volunteer once a week in an organization. This is great especially with teenagers, because it gives them self esteem through helping others. I find that it makes them less selfish people.

I followed the same rule the first time around. I plan to do the same with the little ones. I attribute my older children's career choices to our volunteer work.

My daughter is taking nursing classes, she spent tons of time volunteering at nursing homes and our local children hospital.

My oldest son is a surgical tech in the US Navy, he also spent tons of time volunteering at the children's hospital, on beach cleanups, and teaching adults to read.

My middle son is in the US Army, training to be a medic. He also volunteered at the children's hospital, local vet clinic and animal shelter.

06-14-2010, 06:12 PM
My son's been volunteering weekly for the past year with a hippotherapist (they provide OT/PT to kids on horseback). Last fall they started giving him free weekly riding lessons, so it's now his favorite day of the week :) He's also active in community theatre, so my husband and I volunteer with sets, props, and hair/makeup for the productions. I also volunteer regularly and we do plenty of what we call "single serving" volunteering like donating money to charities, donating food to food banks, etc.

06-14-2010, 06:19 PM
We volunteer with a program that identifies and monitors sea turtle nests from laying to hatching. Unfortunately this year includes oil spill stuff, like calling the correct people for oil in need of cleaning, oiled wildlife, etc.

Kiddo is only 4, but has his own state issued ID card to allow him to be on the beach even during clean up, and has seen the impact of the oil spill himself. Not exactly what I wanted his first official volunteer experience to be.

This LA Times article mentions our group http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2010/06/gulf-oil-spill-sea-turtle-swims-through-oil-to-nest-on-alabama-beach.html

06-14-2010, 11:26 PM
We used to volunteer with a local animal rescue but that opportunity ended. I am looking into opportunities to volunteer with a reptile rescue, but I think Alex has to be 14 to do it, so it might be a while.